This week I watched a bit of NBC's Olympic coverage, catching the end of the U.S.-Canada women's water polo match. The U.S. was down three goals with about five minutes left but rallied to tie.
Nice, I thought, but what does it mean? It was just a qualifying match to determine who would get into the preliminary round of the medal qualifying super-preliminary ultra-qualifying round. Something like that. Why was it even on?
|Anna Kournikova may have Olympic appeal, but tennis is not a true Olympic sport, a certain radio show host and SportsCenter anchor contends.|
That match made me think about the Olympics as they are today. I am patriotic. I want us to win. I buy into the whole Olympic notion, even though all pretense of amateurism is gone. For years, I have looked for the good in the competition and the competitors and enjoyed the uplifting story lines and empathized with the sadder ones.
But now I wonder: Where is the good in the Olympics?
Since 1996, most Olympics news is a downer. There was the bombing in Atlanta. The bribery in the bid process that has blown apart the International Olympic Committee was a lousy story to follow as was the mess of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee and their befouled bid process. And all of the drug testing.
The drug testing is good, obviously, but it just makes you wonder about the athletes. We now know that the East Germans and the Chinese have sent illegally pumped up athletes to past Games. So the IOC wants us to know that they are on the case. But as Bob Costas asked American Olympic suit Dick Pound, would the IOC crack down on some of the stars?
Just because they caught some weight lifter from Shamalamabungistan doesn't mean they are really cleaning up the games. Pound's non-answer spoke volumes.
As for NBC, I can handle the tape delay. NBC paid billions and they can show it to us any way they want.
||I bet it would not take long to read the list of sports that Juan Antonio Samaranch and his pals have refused. Parallel parking? Why not? You need your eyes and hands and feet to do it. Sounds like a sport to me. ”
I just wish there was more spontaneity and less packaging of the Games. The network goes from event to event to event so you can't savor anything. They can't linger on something in the gym because there's something under way in the pool or the softball field.
I'd like to see a little more air in the broadcasts, but it isn't all NBC's fault. NBC and its affiliates are stuffed to the gills with programming because the IOC has apparently approved any sport that has petitioned to become an Olympic event.
I bet it would not take long to read the list of sports that Juan Antonio Samaranch and his pals have refused. Parallel parking? Why not? You need your eyes and hands and feet to do it. Sounds like a sport to me. It seems like the Games have gotten big just to justify the rights fees. "Hey, you have to pay us these billions. There are 847 events now!"
There is no real buzz about the Games anymore because there are too many games. Bigger is not better when it comes to the Olympics. Some of these sports are just not Olympic to me. Sorry. Like kayaking or softball or tennis. Or the 10-meter air rifle.
And while I like basketball as much as anyone, these "fill in your own margin of victory" Dream Teams are not worthy of inclusion in the Olympics. I apologize for sounding like a stick in the mud, but I lose interest in the Summer Games beyond track and field, swimming and gymnastics.
A few years back the Olympic "Triple Cast" was mocked, but it seems to me like the right way to cover the current Olympic mess. You want the overflow of games and questionable events? Pay up and tune in. Good for you. Let the rest of us watch the core sports that we have enjoyed all these years without having to sit through the gift-wrapping competition.